Owens seeking Senoia mayor’s seat
by Sarah Fay Campbell
Larry Owens has spent 11 years on the Senoia City Council, most of them as mayor pro-tem. He's now running to succeed long-time mayor Robert Belisle, who is not seeking reelection.
"I feel that the mayor should come from within the council," said Owens. Belisle, as well as past Senoia mayors Robert Hannah and Diane Cleveland, served on the council before being elected to the mayor's seat.
"The experience that you gain by having served on the council" is helpful. "It gives me the knowledge of what is going on, knowing what plans are in place, what projects are in the works," Owens said. "And having been involved in a great number of them, I would like to see that carried out and followed through instead of someone new to the mayor and council having to play catch-up," he said.
"We can just basically carry on business as usual, because I've been there and I know what is going on, I know what needs to be done," he said. "I want to use my experience that I have gained over the past 11 years to continue to serve the citizens of Senoia."
Owens and his wife, Beverly, moved to Senoia in 1998 from Riverdale. "We looked at every house that was available in Coweta County," Owens said. But "we just kept coming back to Senoia. Something drew us here like it does everyone else." Owens was born in Colorado and moved to Georgia in 1971. He's retired from General Motors.
When it comes to issues, "of course I want to continue with a lot of projects that are already in place," Owens said, such as expanding the multi-use trails, including a connection to Peachtree City, and the future new recreation facility on Hwy. 16. The city purchased the 65-acre property for new sports fields, and the park will be a joint effort of the city and Coweta County.
The city also recently completed a parks and recreation master plan. "I want to make sure we stay on track with the ideas the parks and recreation committee came up with. I want to make sure those don't get forgotten and we fast track as many of them as we can."
He's looking forward to working with the city's newly-formed development authority, "which is going to be set up to try to get some quality growth on the Hwys. 16 and 85 corridor," Owens said. "I think we've done a good job of building a core group of businesses downtown, but the 16 and 85 corridor has been neglected a little bit, and I really want to pursue and recruit some commercial businesses in that corridor."
Owens said he's not looking for big-box stores. He'd like to see some technology-related businesses, and possibly some new city infrastructure to serve them, as well as companies that serve the film and television industries.
Once the new recreation facility opens, the old Leroy Johnson Park "would be a perfect area for some industrial growth."
With so much in the works, "we need to make sure that we maintain our infrastructure." Water is going to be an issue in the future. "We're going to have to decide where we are going to get water in the future," he said. Right now, there are several studies being done. He doesn't want the city to "lose control over our water service," but also doesn't want the city to have to "keep continuing to spend money" to continue to provide the water.
Owens is dedicated to trying to improve the quality of railroad crossings in the city, and keep things moving on the intersection improvement at Pylant Street and Hwy. 16. And he's not going to give up on a "rails to trails" project. Or possibly a "rails with trails" project.
He'd also like to see increased recycling among city residents, including possibly putting recycling bins in parks. "I want to really try to engage the citizens and encourage the businesses to do more recycling, where it is feasible," he said.
Speaking of engaging with the citizens, he'd like to try to have neighborhood level town hall meetings. It's something he's been thinking about since his early days on the council.
Why should people vote for Owens?
"I know what makes Senoia the place it is today, the place we call home. I know the citizens of Senoia, and I know what they expect from their government," he said.
"I feel like I have the experience and the wherewithal to move Senoia forward and at the same time keep the small-town feel that everyone moved here for. I feel like I have the understanding of the people and the ability to lead us to the next level."